The National Girl Child Day is celebrated in India on January 24. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has started this initiative with the sole aim to support and provide opportunities to the girls of India. In 2008, the Government of India declared that every year, January 24 will be celebrated as the National Girl Child Day, with the objective of creating awareness of the people to respect and value the life of the girl child in India.
Create Awareness Among People to Respect and Value the Life of the Girl Child
The Ministry of Women and Child Development declares that the National Girl Child Day is celebrated first to generate a thought process among the people that girls are also equally allowed to have the same opportunities as others are having and then we should give them all the support required for their development and remove any kind of biases based on gender.
The ministry is making people aware the issues and problems faced by a girl child and the responsibilities we have towards them to educate and provide better opportunities. Also, the main focus is on changing the attitude of the society towards girls as well as to make people aware of decreasing sex ratio and to decrease female feticide.
Gender Inequality in India: A Patriarchal, Male-Dominated Society
In India, gender inequality has been followed for many centuries and it is deeply rooted in our society, culture and religion. This discrimination against girls is followed even before they are born or as an infant. This is the main reason the child sex ratio in India is 919, according to 2011 census.
This reduction in the child sex ratio is mainly due to the belief in our society that sons will look after the aged parents, male child will bring dowry and men are main bread earners. Being predominantly a patriarchal, male-dominated society, India has for years discriminated girls in the field of education and jobs.
The Government of India over the years has introduced many programmes and taken steps to improve the conditions of girls. Several campaigns have been launched to reduce the gender bias and remove the discrimination faced by girls.
Initiatives by the Government to Achieve the Objectives of National Girl Child Day
For the empowerment of women and girls in the country, the Ministry of Women and Child Development in the last few years have undertaken many initiatives, including: Save the Girl Child, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP), Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, CBSE Udaan Scheme, National Scheme of Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education, Anganwadi Services Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyaan, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, One Stop Centre (OSC), Child Protection Services Scheme, Swadhar Greh Scheme, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, Ujjawala Scheme and Working Women Hostel.
The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme
On January 22, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme to addresses the declining child sex ratio and other related issues of women’s empowerment. It is a tri-ministerial effort of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Education for ensuring survival and protection of girl child, for education of the girl child as well as awareness programme for promoting skills among girls.
The scheme is being implemented across India and it covers 640 districts. The scheme aims to ensure that girls in India are born, nurtured and educated without any discrimination to become empowered citizens of this country and with all rights. Social media platforms such as MyGov, Vikaspedia and the website of the Ministry of Women and Child Development are also extensively used by the government to spread nationwide awareness to make it a success at all levels.
Various Steps Ensuring the Empowerment of Women
Further, the Government of India has introduced various steps to ensure the empowerment of women through its social, educational and economic upliftment initiatives like Samagra Shiksha, Scheme of National Overseas Scholarship, Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojna and Swacch Vidyalaya Mission, which ensure that schools are girl-friendly particularly for vulnerable sections of our society and provide them with facilities to fulfil their special requirements. The National Education Policy, 2020, is prioritising gender equality and ensuring that education is available equally to all students.
For enhancing the employability of female workers and ensuring economic independence of women, the Government of India is providing training to them through a network of training institutes. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, provides that at least one third of the jobs generated under the scheme should be given only to women.
Women Making Progress, A Positive Outcome for Our Society
These initiatives are having a positive outcome on our society, as the data from the National Family Health Survey – 5 shows that the status of women has improved over the past five years, with more number of women having their own bank accounts, own mobile phones, own house or land and own businesses. Increasingly, now, in our society, more women are participating in major household decisions.